Blum closing in on '09 guarantee

Blum closing in on '09 guarantee

MILWAUKEE -- In all likelihood, Geoff Blum's 2009 contract will be vested in the very near future, possibly by Friday, when the Astros open a four-game set with the Mets.

When Blum signed with the Astros last offseason, he agreed to a one-year deal with a guaranteed second year should he reach 250 plate appearances in '08. The 2009 contract is worth $1.25 million.

After batting four times Wednesday against the Brewers, Blum has 249 plate appearances, all but guaranteeing him a spot on the '09 roster.

General manager Ed Wade characterized the vesting option in Blum's contract as a mere formality. Wade had always envisioned Blum as a part of the team beyond 2008 and is glad the transaction will soon be made official.

"He's done everything we hoped he'd do," Wade said. "Realistically, he's gotten more playing time than we envisioned with Kaz [Matsui] and Carlos [Lee] being down. He's been through the wars. He's a real solid piece to what we think is a very solid bench, and lately, he's been a solid piece of the everyday starting lineup as well."

The 35-year-old Blum is hitting .234 over 85 games this year. He's tied with Miguel Tejada for the fourth-highest home run total of all active Houston players with 12, and he's driven in 40 runs. He has six homers and 19 RBIs over his past 19 games.

Pitching matchup
HOU: RHP Roy Oswalt (11-8, 4.28 ERA)
Astros manager Cecil Cooper called Oswalt's most recent start the second-best outing he has seen from the ace. In it, Oswalt one-hit the D-backs over eight innings. The right-hander struck out 10, tying his season high, and walked two. He gave up four runs on six hits in his previous start against New York, taking a no-decision over six innings.

NYM: LHP Johan Santana (11-7, 2.75 ERA)
The overstated, unrealistic expectations the public developed when the Mets acquired Santana were met on Sunday, when the left-hander shut out the Pirates on three hits and no walks. Santana managed that partially because the young Pirates hitters weren't particularly selective about Santana's pitches and because plate umpire Ed Hickox had a strike zone that would have been the envy of Tom Glavine and other strike-zone stretchers. Santana threw 113 pitches, few of them stressful, in pitching his fifth big league shutout. Santana allowed one run on three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings vs. the Astros on Aug. 2

Tidbits
Although Humberto Quintero has been paired with Wandy Rodriguez for most of the season, Cooper went with Brad Ausmus for the series finale in Milwaukee on Wednesday. "It's not to say 'Q' has had problems, but the last two of three [Rodriguez starts] haven't been real good," Cooper said. "We'll let 'Q' catch most of the time, but we'll give Brad a shot. Nothing against Quintero. He's done a real good job."

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN

On radio
• KTRH 740, KLAT 1010 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Astros (Brandon Backe, 7-12, 5.62) at Mets (John Maine, 10-7, 3.82), 6:10 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Astros (Randy Wolf, 8-11, 4.81) at Mets (Oliver Perez, 9-7, 3.93), 12:10 p.m. CT
• Monday: Astros (Brian Moehler, 9-4, 3.87) at Mets (TBD), 6:10 p.m. CT

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.